A few years ago, I read a devotion by David Sargent, pastor of Church of Christ at Creekwood in Mobile, AL. He shared the story of a helicopter crash in 2011 caused by pilot error. The aircraft was carrying a patient and two health workers, all of which were killed instantly. FAA investigations discovered that the pilot was texting with one hand while flying with the other just prior to the crash. It was also determined that he had been texting prior to takeoff.
The messages revealed an extensive text conversation with a colleague about dinner plans while he was conducting mandatory pre-flight checks of his helicopter. Because of those distractions, he missed two opportunities to recognize that his helicopter did not have sufficient fuel for his mission. It was ultimately determined that the crash was the result of attempting to fly a helicopter with no fuel. This tragedy could have been avoided simply by suspending the texting in lieu of performing a thorough pre-flight inspection.
There is so much to be learned here that I can’t decide where to begin. Maybe the first and most obvious lesson is that one should never text while flying a helicopter. We should also avoid being distracted while performing tasks of vital importance.
This awful tragedy caused me to reflect on my own seemingly limitless distractions. Although many may seem inconsequential, one in particular is a serious relationship inhibitor.
We should always remember that our God is “jealous” and expects our full attention when we are engaged with Him. Have you ever put Him on hold when you received a phone call or even worse, a text? This may seem negligible, but after further reflection I concluded that it was a matter of great concern to God.
However, the matter worsens when we are “attempting to fly with little or no fuel.” We often attempt to conduct our Christian responsibilities in a somewhat listless manner. Before we attempt to take off and perform a mission, we need to make sure that our spiritual tank is full. We do this by “contacting the tower and filing our flight plan.” This of course has to do with spending regular, undistracted time with our Lord.
Next, we should be reading the manual daily to make sure we’re not missing any instructions. God’s word is the instruction manual for all believers. Psalms 119:105 tells us that “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”
The pilot in the story above survived, but he will spend the rest of his life carrying the burden of three precious lives lost due to his distractions. Our own negligence to give God and our mission the full attention they deserve can also end in disaster. It pleases Him when He’s the center of our focus and it prevents so much heartache.
“Take heed to yourselves, lest you forget the covenant of the Lord your God which He made with you, and make for yourselves a carved image in the form of anything which the Lord your God has forbidden you. For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God. (Deuteronomy 4:23-24 NKJ)